Growth

Good News: There's Only 1 Thing Standing Between You and Your Best Life

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Bad News: It's You.

Better News: It doesn't have to be!

Here’s a secret most coaches and therapists won’t admit: We know within the first 10 minutes of meeting you whether you’ll achieve your goals. What?! How's that possible?!

While I can’t see the future, I do see the same 5 challenges hold people back from achieving their full potential. Not surprisingly, there are 5 traits that propel people forward. Coincidence? I think not.

Whether in our personal or professional lives, we've all been guilty of self-sabotage (myself included!) Thankfully, you can spot and stop the obstacles getting in your way, replacing them with behaviors that serve you instead:

Obstacle #1: You don’t accept responsibility for EVERYTHING.

Whether it's other people, the past, or the outcome of the presidential election, there are many things we can't control. There are times when life simply sucks. And when that happens, those who bounce back focus on opportunity instead of blame. They don’t wait for an answer or apology because they know that solving any situation requires owning it in its entirely. Bluntly put, if you feel shitty, it’s YOUR problem, not theirs. The good news is that the fix is also up to you. Whether it’s stating your truth, leaving, getting help, or anything else, you’re in charge of how you feel. This is by far the most challenging obstacle on the list. But once you’ve mastered it, it’ll lead to the biggest results. 

Shift It: Accept that no matter your situation, change is up to you.

Obstacle #2: Your thoughts and actions bring you down.

For any outcome, there’s a specific way of thinking and acting that will get you what you want. Your current situation is the result of your current actions and beliefs. To create a new outcome, you need to identify the thoughts and actions of those who have what you want and then adopt them. For someone who's in debt, she might ask herself "what do financially savvy people do?" As challenging as it might be, she might start tracking her expenses, going to Debtor's Anonymous meetings, etc.  It might feel foreign at first, but soon these new actions will create new thought patterns (and lead to new results!) Over time, you’ll transform your beliefs into ones that serve you and release the ones that previously held you back.

Shift It: As they say, “fake it til you make it.”

Obstacle #3: You want the new without giving up the old.

There’s always a price to pay to achieve what you want. New results come from new actions. If you want to run a marathon, but you don’t want to get off the couch, don’t be surprised when things don’t go as planned. This doesn’t mean change has to be filled with pain, the truly successful view paying the price as a positive instead of a negative. They focus on the joy of what they’re doing, rather than the pain of what they’re giving up.

Shift It: To view new steps more positively, focus on the pleasure of achieving your goal rather than the pain of change. Simply put, look at what you’re adding instead of what you’re giving up. 

Obstacle #4: You imagine the worst-case scenario…and unknowingly create it.

Whether or not you believe in manifesting, vision boards, or the law of attraction, one thing is always true: What you think is what you see. For example, I have a good friend who wants to be in a loving relationship. But, since she’s convinced that “all the good ones are taken,” she doesn’t put herself out there. She won’t go on a dating site and thinks that any guy who comes up to her must be “a loser.” Not surprisingly, her fear of being alone forever ensures that she will be.

Shift It: Focus on what you want, not what you want to avoid. This subtle difference creates massive change.

Obstacle #5: You buy your own bullshit.

Harsh, but true. “Reasons” are just excuses that we’ve bought into. When people tell me they “don’t have enough time” to meditate/exercise/respond to emails, I often wonder how they still have time to stalk their ex on Facebook. If you truly want to achieve your goal, you’ll trade your rationalizing for resourcefulness.

Shift It: Prioritize your goal by creating more time and questioning why you haven’t achieved it thus far.

The Takeaway:

Don’t blame your friends, finances, or fiancé- You are your biggest obstacle. And that's a good thing! Because changing your mindset is within your control. Remember, you have everything you need to succeed, you simply need to get out of your own way.

Interested in 1-on-1 support? Click here.

Self-Control Not Solving It? Try This Instead.

Change sucks.

It’s the reason we stay in bad relationships, eat the same foods, and overplay songs until we’re sick of them. We tend to like comfort, even when that comfort is uncomfortable.

Simply put, we’re creatures of habit. And when we decide to break a habit, we rarely have an immediate epiphany or feeling of freedom (no matter what those inspirational Instagram seem to say.) More often than not, change temporarily causes everything from anxiety, to depression, to a Ben & Jerry’s binge.

For example, I spent nine years in a relationship when I should have left after five. Why? Because making a change, even a necessary change, pushes you out of your comfort zone and into that awkward place that nobody likes called “growth.”

But, much like growing out a bad haircut, change doesn’t happen overnight.

Sure, we have growth spurts brought on by moments of clarity, loss, or motivation. But for the most part, humans don’t change until their discomfort in their current situation becomes greater than their fear of change. Growth is rarely linear and often requires a tipping point.

This wave-like cycle of upheaval and clarity is known as evolutionary catharsis. And, just like cleaning your closet, it gets a lot messier before it get better. The end result is that kick-ass “aha” moment when our brain is reorganized into a new state of greater awareness, functioning, and simplicity. We feel more connected to ourselves and are ready to take the necessary steps to get where we want in life.

So how does this work?

Right before we have a growth spurt, many of us have a temporary feeling of discomfort. This manifests as self-defeating behaviors. Learned in childhood as coping mechanisms,

These behaviors fall into three categories:

1. Those that try to reduce the amount of overwhelm by pushing energy out, such as:

  • yelling
  • compulsive behaviors
  • sickness

2. Those that block additional energy from entering the system, such as:

  • depression
  • withdrawal
  • loss of appetite

3. Those aimed at distracting from the growing chaos inside them, such as:

  • any form of addiction
  • a ton of television-time
  • overworking

These three types of coping mechanisms are our system’s final, desperate attempts to preserve our status quo. After all, it’s scary and stressful to step into a new way of being. I’ve heard coaches call this “de-evolution,” but that's a misnomer as it’s a natural part of the evolutionary process. Whether we reach for the bottle, an ex, or the remote control, it’s all part of the process. Our goal is not to judge these attempts, but to notice them with genuine curiosity. (Full disclosure: writing that last sentence made me gag a little, but it’s true. Judging ourselves for our coping mechanisms doesn’t make them any easier to change.)

Our belief around what growth “should” look like is nothing more than our inner-critic shouting louder than our inner-nurturer. As we release old beliefs, our brains have a hard time balancing the volume of these voices. Eventually, it levels out and new, truthful ideas emerge.

The Solution

While these self-defeating behaviors may temporarily release the pressure of growth, the end result is keeping our system stagnant. Learning to tolerate the discomfort rather than running away from it allows us to take that quantum leap into the next state of awareness, tolerance, and resilience.

Ironically, our fight to indulge in these sabotaging behaviors is what keeps us playing small, making the process longer and more painful. The solution comes down to self-surrender. We must be willing to surrender the person we are now to foster the person we can become.

Whatever your brand of self-defeating behavior, it’s time to tune in to the parts of yourself these behaviors are trying drown out. Notice the voice that shouts the loudest and the voice that suddenly became silent.

  • What are they saying?
  • What do these parts of you want?
  • How can you be more compassionate toward them?

Sure, it’s easier said than done. And I’m certainly not perfect. Like all of us, my relationship with myself is constantly evolving. I’ve found that self-control has only led to quick changes that are hard to sustain. The lasting life-changes all resulted from listening to and embracing the parts of myself these actions tried to mute.

It’s not always fun. In fact, it rarely is. But you know what’s worse? Staying stuck.

What To Do When You're Fed Up

Ever feel like you just want to give up? 
Ever find yourself frustrated, walking away from situations and people with the same conclusion each time? 

  • Yup, I knew it- all guys are jerks!
  • This is what happens every time I (apply for a job/try something new/trust people).
  • Things never work out for me.

While those generalizations and takeaways keep us safe, they also keep us stuck. So if you’re ready to rewrite your ending, it’s time you stop blaming the cast, and start getting curious about your role.   

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
— Pema Chodron

Let me give you an example:

Years ago, I was in a relationship with the least-punctual man who ever existed. That may sound like a ridiculous claim. ("Amita, have you met every man in the world and timed each of them?") But arriving 2 hours late without sending me a text makes him a definite contender for this prestigious award. Each time he’d be late, I’d tell myself “He’s always late. Guys are the worst! This is the last time I’m dealing with this. He clearly doesn’t love me because if he did, he would get his sh!t together and change.” 

While his punctuality was indeed an issue, the story I was telling myself was the bigger problem. In my narrative, I made his time management struggles about me.

The stories we tell ourselves create safety and order out of situations that feel dangerous or chaotic. When in doubt, many of us (myself included) immediately jump to the “I’m not enough” explanation.

Why? Because there’s comfort in certainty.

The familiarity of my story made it easier to be angry at him rather than feeling the more difficult emotion: vulnerability. The good news is that you don’t have to keep playing old reruns in your head.

You have the power to change your story and choose a better ending.

The next time you’re in a situation when you’re feeling triggered – from a setback to a breakup – use these steps to overcome feelings of anger, shame, or disappointment:

1. Get Curious.

You don’t need to identify your emotions to know they exist. When you’re feeling triggered, (like you’re going from 0-60 in 6 seconds flat) it can be challenging to slow down long enough to label your feelings. Instead, start by tapping into your body by asking yourself:

  • Where do I feel this sensation?
  • What does it feel like?
    • I feel a knot in my stomach or I feel panic in my chest.

2. Engage With It.

Admittedly, this step sucks. You’ll need to tap into your feelings to uncover the narrative. By engaging with your emotions, you’ll get a clearer sense of the story that allows these emotions to stagnate and the situation to repeat itself. For example, If you’re feeling angry that your hard work wasn’t acknowledged, you might be telling yourself, "This team is ridiculous, my boss is a conceited jerk."

3. Collect The Data.

As much as journaling can feel like a chore, the mind-body connection that occurs is transformative. Quickly, without judgment, write out the answers to the following:

  • What story is playing in my head?
    • I never get any credit, I should just quit. Then they’ll see how much they need me.
  • What are my emotions?
    • I feel angry and annoyed.
  • What are my beliefs?
    • I won’t be successful.
  • What actions do I want to take?
    • I want to quit.

You have every right to feel the way you do. If your answers are driven by emotion and self-preservation, chances are there may be some missing facts or faulty logic. When we’re in a heightened emotional state, it can be hard to remember that feelings aren’t facts. By challenging your storyline, you'll begin to uncover what’s really going on.

4. Play Detective.

Grab your make-believe magnifying glass and pick apart your story by asking yourself:

  • What parts of what I wrote are fact and whats part are beliefs?
    • Fact: My name wasn’t mentioned in the meeting. But, when I gave my boss my part of the project, he was receptive to my ideas and seemed grateful.
    • Belief: I never get any credit. I won't be successful.
  • What additional information would be helpful to know?
    • What my boss thinks about my potential for growth at this company.
  • What was my role in this situation and how do I feel about t? 
    • I feel like I’m not good enough. I never ask for his opinion about my performance because I feel scared of what I might hear. I could try asking his opinion and seeing what happens. 

Most of us use anger and resentment to cover up our insecurities. Discovering the underlying stories that keep us stuck teaches us how we confirm our negative beliefs, rather than challenging them.  The truths we uncover are often uncomfortable. But, discomfort is where all the magic and growth happens.

The Takeaway:

Knowing how you keep yourself stuck will help you to stop repeating the same old story. It will give you the freedom to take action that’s truly aligned with where you want to go and who you want to be.